FIFA lifts international ban on Messi

The Argentine skipper, in a match against Chile in March, was slapped with a four-match ban for "having directed insulting words at an assistant referee." Messi had already served one match of the supension.

Lionel Messi's return will be a major boost to Argentina's hopes of reaching next year's World Cup in Russia, with the South Americans struggling in regional qualifying.   -  REUTERS

The FIFA Appeal Committee on Friday overturned Lionel Messi's four-match ban from playing for Argentina.

The Argentine skipper, in a match against Chile in March, was slapped with a four-match ban for "having directed insulting words at an assistant referee." Messi had already served one match of the supension.

The U-turn is a major boost to Argentina's hopes of reaching next year's World Cup in Russia, with the South Americans struggling in regional qualifying.

"The FIFA Appeal Committee has upheld the appeal lodged by the Argentinian Football Association, on behalf of the player Lionel Messi, against the decision taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, lifting the sanctions imposed on him as a result," read a statement from fifa.com.

"Despite the fact that the FIFA Appeal Committee considered Lionel Messi’s behaviour as reproachable, the former concluded that the evidence available was not sufficient to establish to the appropriate standard, i.e. to the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee, that art. 77 a) of the FDC, according to which the Disciplinary Committee is responsible for sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention, could be applied."

"The Appeal Committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football and any unsporting conduct that may be contrary to the principles of fair play cannot be accepted."

"In view of the above decision, the suspension for four matches imposed on Lionel Messi, which entered into force on 28 March 2017, and the fine of CHF 10,000 have been lifted."

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